ERRF 18: New Products Make their Debut

While ostensibly the purpose of the recent East Coast RepRap Festival (ERRF) was to celebrate the 3D printing community and culture, it should come as no surprise that more than a few companies decided to use the event as an opportunity to publicly launch new products. Who can blame them? It’s not as if every day you have a captive audience of 3D printing aficionados; you might as well make the best of it.

Many creations were being shown off for the first time at ERRF, and we surely didn’t get a chance to see them all. There was simply too much going on at any given time to be sure no printed stone was left unturned. But the following printers, filaments, and accessories caught our attention long enough to warrant sharing with the good readers of Hackaday.

Keep in mind that much of this information is tentative at best, and things could easily change between now and when the products actually go on sale. These events serve as much as a sounding board for new products as they do a venue for advertising and selling them, so feedback received from show attendees may very well alter some of these products from what we saw at ERRF.

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ERRF 18: Slice Engineering Shows off the Mosquito

With few exceptions, it seemed like every 3D printer at the first inaugural East Coast RepRap Festival (ERRF) was using a hotend built by E3D. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that; E3D makes solid open source products, and they deserve all the success they can get. But that being said, competition drives innovation, so we’re particularly interested anytime we see a new hotend that isn’t just an E3D V6 clone.

The Mosquito from Slice Enginerring is definitely no E3D clone. In fact, it doesn’t look much like any 3D printer hotend you’ve ever seen before. Tiny and spindly, the look of the hotend certainly invokes its namesake. But despite its fragile appearance, this hotend can ramp up to a monstrous 500 C, making it effectively a bolt-on upgrade for your existing machine that will allow you to print in exotic materials such as PEEK.

We spent a little time talking with Slice Engineering co-founder [Dan], and while there’s probably not much risk it’s going to dethrone E3D as the RepRap community’s favorite hotend, it might be worth considering if you’re thinking of putting together a high-performance printer.

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Open Source DIY Printers are Alive and Well: What We Saw At ERRF 18

If you follow the desktop 3D printer market, it probably won’t surprise you to hear that nearly every 3D printer on display at the inaugural East Coast RepRap Festival (ERRF) was made in China. Even Printrbot CEO Brook Drumm had to admit that this was the year his company may finally bite the bullet and begin selling a branded and customized printer built overseas.

When you can get a decent (but let’s be clear, not great) 3D printer for $200 USD, it’s no surprise that American and European manufacturers are having a hard time staying competitive. But not everyone is seduced by low-cost printers. They know they could buy a decent printer for a couple hundred bucks, but for them that’s not the point. Some hackers are just as (if not more) interested in designing and building the machines than they are churning out little plastic boats with the finished product.

Luckily for us, these are also the type of folks who document their builds and make all their collected information and design files available for others under an open source license. Such builders exemplify the true spirit of the RepRap movement, and we’re happy to report that in a sea of imported printers, there were several interesting home built open source printers.

Whether you want to build your own copy of one of these machines, or simply get inspired by some of the ideas their creators had, these machines are physical proof that just because you can order a cheap 3D printer on eBay right now doesn’t mean you have to.

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Tiny Printers Get Color Mixing

Last weekend was the inaugural East Coast RepRap Festival in beautiful Bel Air, Maryland. Like it’s related con, the Midwest RepRap Festival, ERRF is held in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by farms, and is filled with only people who want to be there. It is the anti-Maker Faire; only the people who have cool stuff to show off, awesome prints, and the latest technology come to these RepRap Fests. This was the first ERRF, and we’re looking forward to next year, where it will surely be bigger and better.

One of the stand-out presenters at ERRF didn’t have a big printer. It didn’t have normal stepper motors. There weren’t Benchies or Marvins or whatever the standard test print is these days. [James] is showing off tiny printers. Half-scale printers. What’s half the size of a NEMA 17 stepper motor? A NEMA 8, apparently, something that isn’t actually a NEMA spec, and the two companies that make NEMA 8s have different bolt hole patterns. This is fun.

If these printers look familiar, you’re right. A few years ago at the New York Maker Faire, we checked out these tiny little printers, and they do, surprisingly, print. There are a lot of tricks to make a half-size printer, but the most impressive by far is the tiny control board. This tiny little board is just 2.5 by 1.5 inches — much smaller than the standard RAMPS or RAMBO you’d expect on a DIY printer. On the board are five stepper drivers, support for two heaters, headers for OLEDs and Graphic LCDs, and a switching regulator. It’s a feat of microelectronics that’s impressive and necessary for a half-size printer.

Since we last saw these tiny printers, [James] has been hard at work expanding what is possible with tiny printers. The most impressive feat from this year’s ERRF was a color-mixing printer built around the same electronics as the tiny printers. The setup uses normal-size stepper motors (can’t blame him) and a diamond-style hotend to theoretically print in three colors. If you’ve ever wanted a tiny printer, this is how you do it, and I assure you, they’re very, very cute.